Texas Fruit and Vegetable Gardening (podcast)

May 14th, 2015 | By | Category: Featured Articles, podcast, the show
Texas Fruit & Vegetable Gardening, by Greg Grant

Texas Fruit & Vegetable Gardening, by Greg Grant

This is a rebroadcast of a show that aired in July 2012

Greg Grant, a seventh generation Texan, calls himself a plant nut, and he wants to entice others to cultivate a passion for growing plants — especially edibles.

He is an attractive, energetic, funny, fifty-something-year-old man-child who says, “I’m a child at heart and will go to my grave being a little kid.”

And it suits this part-time research associate for garden outreach at Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens in Nacogdoches.

Known for ornamental plant introductions he’s made throughout his career, Greg has turned his vast knowledge and skills to teaching people to grow food.

And one way he’s doing that is with his most recent book, Texas Fruit and Vegetable Gardening: Plant, Grow, and Eat the Best Edibles for Texas Gardens, published by Cool Springs Press.

In it Greg guides readers through growing and harvesting 60 different herbs, fruits and vegetables that grow in Texas.

The book opens with seed starting and covers the topics of creating great soil, composting, pest control, irrigation and fertilization, planting, maintenance, harvest and storage.

Texas Fruit & Vegetable Gardening is for beginners — the “fifty percent of the population that doesn’t grow food.”

He even offers a section for getting kids involved in gardening. “Being a big kid, myself, makes me uniquely qualified to discuss this topic.”

The book takes readers through the gardening process in an easy to understand, and entertaining manner — with stories about Greg Grant’s lifelong love of gardening, family and nature.

There’s a section in the back of the book devoted to providing the reader with helpful tables, including: first and last freeze dates, how to recognize symptoms of nutrient deficiency, how to adjust soil pH, and harvest and storage of the vegetables and fruits.

Greg even takes the book to it’s natural conclusion — the table. And shares a few of his family’s recipes for dishes such as Buttermilk Cornbread,  Southern Peas and Strawberry Smoothies.

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  1. Wonderful book. Would love to have this as a resource. My husband and I planted our first vegetable garden this past Spring. The crookneck squash, cucumbers and watermelon had powdery mildew (at least that is what I think it was). The squash was also infested with squash bugs. Ugh! Needless to say, none of these fruits or veggies produced. On the flip side, our “Juliet” tomatoes are producing like crazy! We have had plenty of these Roma shaped tomatoes to share with friends and family. I’m looking forward to planting a Fall garden. Now if I just knew what to plant;) I also have a gardening blog at: http://ramblingwrentx.blogspot.com/

  2. I have been gardening in Texas for nearly 5 years and boy, is it a challenge. Between learning what works and what doesn’t and dealing with extreme heat and drought like conditions to this years’ beautiful rainfall. The first tomatoes I grew here only produced green leaves and huge bush like plant but alas, no tomatoes. It was pretty yet very sad. This year after a few soil adjustments and lots of rain, our tomatoes just keep on coming which we are so thankful for. Texas is certainly unique and especially the gardening conditions – I look forward to reading and learning more about it from Greg Grant – great podcast thanks!

  3. The first year I started a garden was a massive fail. I planted my bush beans in trays and tried to transplant them. Then I tried to grow them up a trellis. I planted cilantro, leek seeds and various other winter veggies in April. I didn’t use any fertilizer…I didn’t get any peppers and the few tomatoes that grew were eaten by the birds. The only thing I got right was the basil…I was so determined never to try again, but the next February the bug hit me again and I decided to read a few books and ask someone for advice. It’s amazing what advice from a seasoned gardener can teach you!

  4. Gardening on a hill, in between drought and flood, heat and more heat (and then the occasional frost), has led to many frustrations. I seem to be missing a vital piece of the puzzle, as I never get the harvests I desire. Is it the soil? the water? (not always rain water) or the opossums? Perhaps city living (too close to a freeway) is to blame? Thanks, we could use help! I imagine Greg has the practical advice all us Texas gardeners could use.

  5. I am developing a kitchen garden these last few years, doing a little each year. I have cosmos coming up where my tomatoes are planted. Unless they are in the way, they will stay and seed. I harvested another watermelon this morning after picking my okra. I have two raised beds and am in the process of adding a third at the low end of the bed. It won’t be finished until the flourishing Jack O Lantern is harvested by my grandchildren. I am anxious to clear the watermelon vines so I can get to planting the remainder of the seeds due to go in in July.
    I can’t wait to start harvesting my fall crops! I am having a GRAND time working from about 6:30 in the morning to nine or so.
    Your book would so help to keep my enthusiasm fired.

  6. Our future daughter-in-law, a lovely young woman, is so excited about establishing her first vegetable garden in the new McKinney home she and our son will enjoy. She is so energetic, a marvelous & creative chef, and, of course, we want her Texas gardening to be successful. However, she is a California transplant and has lived in Texas about five years. We know, as Greg Grant so perfectly articulated on your July 28 show, that Texas has its own unique traits and Texas gardens must honor those features. His book sounds like the perfect gift for our forthcoming new family member!

  7. So far my experiences with vegetable gardening in Texas has been more on the “fail” side. Once of my biggest success was this past year. I planted an 4″ potted artichoke plant two winters ago. I was pretty sure the plant was close to death last summer and I admit, it was a little neglected. This past winter the plant really took off. I had over 10 artichokes that I was able to harvest in the spring. This is one of my favorite vegetables (and quite expensive in the grocery store). Needless to say, I was very happy with my success. I look forward to enjoying the fruits/vegetables of my labor in the future. Thanks for sharing your great podcast and info about this book.

  8. Once, when I had a couple years’ access to a great garden plot, I bought from a local entrepreneur a couple of 4-inch plants that were supposed to be the white Nicotiana flower, to add to the vegetable garden. It turned out they weren’t Nictiana, but Poke Salad. Yes, the poisonous salad green that requires special cooking. It became very tall, and pretty in it’s way, with deep purple berries that birds liked. We never did try cooking it, but the next year another one appeared in the back yard, far from the garden, where it became a feature, coming back for several years. So—successful food for the birds!

  9. This is my first year with a garden: peppers, tomatoes, carrots, onions, okra, and it just keeps going. There have been plenty of disease and pest issues, but nothing catastrophic. My biggest success so far has been my sungold and mortgage lifter tomatoes. Both have been a huge hit with my wife and tomato-loving family members. My biggest failures have been my green beans and onions. The green beans wilted and dried out before I knew what happened. The onions just did not mature. I think I got them in too late. The learning curve continues to be steep. Would love a copy of this book to add to my resources.

  10. This is my first summer planting a garden. I have quickly learned that “spring veggies” are very different here in Texas. My lettuce, snap peas, and arugula didn’t stand a chance on our warm spring. However, my cukes and basil have taken off…we’re eating lots of cheese and cucumber sandwiches and pesto around here. I would love my own gardening book for Texas beginners just like me 🙂

  11. I learned gardening from my parents both Minnesota, depression era, farmers who had transplanted themselves to the outskirts of Detroit, Michigan at the outset of WWII. They were versed in farm the farm culture of the Midwest where most everything is different from Texas, soil to season included. Farming and gardening with them was the best time I have ever experienced and that memory lingers on as I am embarking on present project behind my house here in Georgetown. It will be nice to have the experience of Mr. Grant to aid in the transition to the Texas environment. I like to throw a bit of the scientific approach to the considerable plot, 45′ x 80′, I am preparing. I want to use all the helpful techniques I can afford; like soil preparation, irrigation, mulching, and shade management.

  12. For far too long after moving to Texas, I tried to garden they way I had everywhere else I’d lived, and I failed miserably. The clay soil of my land in the Post Oak Savannah slurped up all compost but stayed rock-hard to suck-muck, depending on whether or not it rained. My best success so far is a garden of potted plants. I know I still have a lot to learn and this book sounds great!

  13. So far, the great state of Texas has defeated me and my gardening attempts. I thought that growing some items in pots would help me control the outcome (tomato, a few herbs, a chile plant)… I was so wrong. Everything, and I mean everything, I have planted in the ground or in a pot has died, for two years in a row. I would absolutely love to know what foods will grow here with the right care, because it is clear what worked for me in the Northwest is not just a little wrong, but absolutely wrong here! There is no room for “tweaking”. Please help me!

  14. My husband and I always had gardens when we were growing up. When we married 40 years ago, we had our own successful gardens for several years. We stopped because it was really time consuming. Now, we are retired, and we have re-cycled our gardening skills. This year, our squash and tomatoes were a success story!It feels great to re-connect with Mother Nature.

  15. I love to grow onions. The best fertilizer for making the onions grow large bulbs is bat guano tea. Just add about 2 tablespoons of bat guano to a gallon of water and apply to the growing onions when they start to bulb in early spring. Works well with garlic too!

  16. Had 94 gorgeous heirloom tomato plants this year. Then the spider mites paid a visit. Arrrrrgh!

  17. I haven’t had a garden in years, but I’ve come to the conclusion that growing your own is the best way to get affordable, healthy veggies–and to know for sure what has gone into them. I’m looking forward to growing my own.

  18. Had beautiful tomato plants last year, with numerous heirloom varieties, but every tomato was stolen by a squirrel before it could fully ripen. As if that wasn’t enough, the squirrel began tearing off branches of the plants. Eventually he ripped every plant, limb from limb … all twelve mature plants. Was this psycho squirrel going crazy from heat last summer? Haven’t planted tomatoes this year or seen much of the squirrel, either. Gave up on tomatoes!

  19. My late husband and I raised gardens nearly our whole married life. (30 yr) A few years ago we decided to make a compost for our garden. Not having made one before we just sectioned off a part of our yard and fixed the compost there—no fence or container or anything–just open in the yard,digging up dirt and putting it over the scraps. One day our little dog was acting very strange. When he would sit up he would lean to one side with his teeth bared. When he tried to run he would fall down. Took him to the vet and found nothing wrong with him. After observing him for the next few days we caught him eating out of the compost. LO and behold we realized that he had been eating the “composted grapes” that had fermented and was drunk!

  20. My sincere thanks to everyone who wrote to share their stories of victory and defeat in the garden.

    Using random.org, I input all the entries into the website’s list randomizer; the people’s whose names appear in the #1 and #2 positions receive a copy of the book.

    Congratulations to Howard S. and Melinda Thomas (your post made me laugh out loud, Melinda) you each win a copy of Greg Grant’s book Texas Fruit & Vegetable Gardening.

    Check your inbox soon for my email notification.

    I will offer more giveaways in the months ahead, so if you didn’t win this time — there’s always next time.

    Have a great week,
    Cecilia Nasti
    Producer and Host
    Field & Feast